What to Expect with LGBTQIA+ Therapy
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersexed, Asexual (LGBTQIA*) community represents a diverse range and umbrella of identities and expression of gender and sexual orientation. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are diverse in many ways such as race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, and class. There are so many overlapping aspects of an individual’s identity, which bring unique perspective and value to the therapeutic relationship.
Many of the LGBTQIA+ community are marginalized and face prejudice, discrimination, denial of human rights, harassment, and trauma. Many are not accepted not only by society at large but are not accepted and may be disowned by their family and loved ones. Many struggles with shame and experience a fractured relationship with their higher power which ultimately impacts mental health. Worsened mental health symptoms typically occur to other marginalized groups of people within this community, particularly people of color and/or low socioeconomic status.
Risk to the LGBTQIA+ Community
While being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is something we sometimes see associated with pride parades and pride campaigns, it is not always something we and others feel is worth celebrating. It brings many unique challenges to mental health. LGB adults are twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition.
Furthermore, our trans youth are twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms, seriously consider suicide, and attempt suicide compared to cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and questioning youth.
How Do I Find an affirming LGBTQIA+ Therapist?
Finding an affirming therapist to fit your needs is one of the most important steps to finding effective therapy. Oftentimes we are the most honest, willing, and ready to heal when in an environment where we feel safe, heard, and understood. It’s hard, to be honest, and let your guard down when you don’t feel comfortable! Especially when running the risk of prejudice and discrimination with professionals is unfortunately rather high.
Despite protections that have been put into place, the LGBTQIA+ community faces high rates of harassment, humiliation, and refusal of services from varying medical practitioners. In fact, research shows, up to 19% of people report avoiding healthcare and are discouraged from seeking the help that they need.
How to Choose the Right Therapist?
Important questions to ask are: is it important to me to find a therapist who identifies similarly to me? Or rather, is it important to find a therapist who is simply a member of the LGBTQIA+ community? Lastly, is it okay if my therapist is an ally and does not identify as being within the community? Is it important for my therapist to have specialized training?
If you are transgender and are seeking a mental health professional to write a letter of support for gender-affirming medical care or for legal documentation change, you should seek a provider who understands the insurance or legal requirements of support letters. This you can discuss with your insurance provider directly or can search google directly for something like “therapists for gender-affirming letters.” Additionally, you can click here to view a website filled with providers who do so for free or for a low cost.
Finding the Right Therapist for Me
Depending on the therapist, you may be able to find information indicating their identity on their profile or website. Some therapists may feel willing to disclose their identity, while others do not.
If you are on the website to a group practice, such as Bayview Therapy, it is great to toggle through the services offered and check to see that there is content on the website inclusive of YOUR identity (ie: LGBTQIA+ Counseling). Look to see if you feel comfortable among what has been written and continue to form your decision from there.
Many insurance providers will have directories to skim through or will offer numbers of providers who list LGBTQIA+ competency.
If you are comfortable, there are also many resources within the community. Wilton Manors is a well-known town in South Florida (near our Bayview Therapy Fort Lauderdale office) and often referred to as the “Second Gayest City” or the “Gayborhood.” There are local places such as Sunserve and the community center Compass.
The final key to finding the “right” therapist for you is to take the plunge and make the call. Ask questions that are important to you (perhaps some of the questions I mentioned above) in making sure your therapist has the experience or training you are looking for. Don’t settle for someone you don’t feel that “connection” with. Remember, finding the right match is key to finding effective therapy.
What to Expect in Therapy?
Lastly, what do I expect when I go to therapy? This answer looks different for everyone. Once finding the right therapist, you can discuss any concerns you have, whether they are specific to your gender identity/sexual orientation or not.
LGBTQIA+ counseling can help with exploration of identity/sexuality, working through trauma, discussing acceptance, exploration, coming out, gender dysphoria, processing discrimination, sexual issues, addiction, parenting issues, relationship issues, and managing mental health.
Many LGBTQIA+ individuals ready to enter therapy aren’t looking for therapy centered around their identity, but rather, just want to know the person they’re working with accepts them. Any topics can be discussed such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, stress, life transitions, etc.
If you would like to learn more about me (Alex Steiner, LCSW) and my approach, please visit my bio here. If any of the information above resonates with you and you feel ready to begin your therapy journey, please reach out and give me a call today at 954-391-5305.
I offer free 15-minute consultations, so we can make sure I am the right match for you. I look forward to hearing from you!